By Lynsey Ross
A perfect break used to be all about a room with a view, freshly plumped pillows and stunning scenery – but when it comes to planning the ideal trip these days, the more discerning traveller is looking for a whole different set of criteria – gold star rated sustainability and green credentials.
As social and corporate responsibility become ever more recognised, tourism, as one of the main economic drivers in the UK, has a significant part to play. Consumers are increasingly looking for the most environmentally friendly ways to travel and enjoy their time away, and with the help of initiatives like the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) this is becoming easier to do.
Browsing the GTBS website, I was amazed by the variety and number of companies across the country I recognised who are ‘green rated’, and have already made a mental list of my top 10 places to visit in the near future. And it’s not just accommodation providers and restaurants; the current network of members is comprised of a wide range of business types including visitor attractions and corporate offices among others.
The GTBS is the national sustainable tourism certification scheme for the UK which assesses businesses against a rigorous set of criteria to prove their sustainability. Covering a range of areas, such as energy and water efficiency, waste management and biodiversity, businesses are encouraged to introduce measures which ensure efficiencies while not detracting from the quality of the experience on offer. Added extras, like the use of recycled products, local produce on menus, cycle hire and cultivated wildlife areas, are some of the many other ways in which businesses can up their star rating.
The scheme has been in operation since 1997 and now has in excess of 2000 members across the UK and Ireland. Working in partnership with wildlife conservation agencies such as Wildlife Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, it is now possible to ensure that your trip is ‘green’ from start to finish by checking each providers rating before you book on the GTBS website.
So if anybody is planning a break and wants to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible by holidaying at home, then have a look at the GTBS site for some great things to do and places to stay.
Those of you who live in Scotland can enter a competition we’re running here at Energy Saving Trust Scotland, which will see five lucky winners given the opportunity to experience the best of what green tourism has on offer.